For the first time since the start of the war in Syria more than four years ago, a major power, Russia, has openly begun to lend its armed support to the government of President Bashar-al-Assad.
On 30 September, Russian warplanes began a bombing campaign whose targets were terrorists from IS (the so-called ‘Islamic State’), hitting arms caches, ammunition, other military hardware and fuel storage facilities. The aerial campaign was accompanied by an appeal from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to President Assad for a compromise on a political solution.
Ashton Carter, US secretary of defence, rejected Moscow’s claims to be fighting IS, saying that Russian bombing was aimed at supporting the government of President Assad. Mr Carter said: “Fighting IS without pursuing a parallel political transition only risks escalating the civil war in Syria, and with it the very extremism and instability that Moscow claims to [be] fighting,” adding: “that approach is tantamount … to pouring gasoline on the fire”. (Russian actions intensify Syrian civil war Carter says by Jim Garamone, US Department of Defence, 30 September 2015)
France and Britain also warned Moscow not to attack other rebel groups.
These warnings are rich, coming as they do from countries that have unleashed a myriad terrorist groups to effect regime change in Syria, in the process wreaking death and destruction on a vast scale.
Russia’s position, as stated by its president in his speech to the UN General Assembly, is simple, straightforward and honest. The only way, he said, to save Syria and defeat terrorism is to support the government of President Assad, which is the only effective force capable of defeating the terrorists.
Washington, London and Paris, on the other hand, have very little interest in defeating terrorism, for they are the progenitors and friends of terrorism. Their only interest is to bring down the independent government of Syria, headed by President Assad. Hence their protests against the Russian air campaign, which is putting serious obstacles in the way of their nefarious designs.
This being the case, everyone seeking the defeat of terrorism, an end to the imperialist-inspired and supported bloodletting, and a just solution to the Syrian question, must surely welcome Russia’s entry on the side of the Syrian government.
But no! As was to be expected, and remaining true to its essentially pro-imperialist stance, the Stop the War Coalition issued a statement saying that it: “opposes Russian bombs falling on Syria, just as we have consistently [a very dubious claim indeed] opposed all bombing of that country”. It went on: “We cannot support Russian military action,” for “it remains our view that external interference has no part to play in resolving the problems in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East”. (Syria Labour party policy and Russian intervention, 30 September 2015)
This statement, saturated with bourgeois pacifism, fails to acknowledge the already-existing external interference by imperialism, by its stooge middle-eastern regimes – from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan to Turkey – and by its murderous jihadi proxies. It is precisely this outside interference that has brought Syria to its present pass.
In the circumstances, Russia’s support for the beleaguered Syrian people is a welcome antidote to the murderous activities of the above-mentioned blood-thirsty combine, and offers a ray of hope for the resolution of this conflict, through which imperialism has so far claimed the lives of more than 250,000 Syrians, destroyed untold material, historical and cultural wealth of this once beautiful country, and caused 10 million Syrians to be displaced as refugees within the country or beyond its borders.
For our part, we in the CPGB-ML welcome Russia’s actions, which have been taken at the invitation of Syria’s legitimate government, and we wish their combined forces every success.